March 12, 2009

10 lessons of Rafael Nadal

In this interesting Knowledge@Wharton article, I read about the following 10 key lessons that Mr. Alvarez de Mon, IESE Business School, believes managers can learn from Rafael Nadal, the current # 1 tennis player in the world.

# 1. Talent
Each of us is born with a different talent. The key is to choose a profession that permits you to develop it. Although talent is a function of genetics, it needs to be nurtured in order to bloom fully.

# 2. Character
Nadal is an example of how a strong and determined character can propel a career to the very top. Along with talent, character is the second engine in an unbeatable duo.

# 3. Training
In both sports and business, there should be a natural relationship between making mistakes and being prepared to learn. In the case of Nadal, not everything is technique; it’s also about mental control, and about an eagerness to be constantly learning. Before he unseated Federer as the world’s number-one player, Nadal had been defeated on various occasions by his rival.

# 4. Values
Before you can become number-one, you have to develop such values as humility in order to have a solid foundation for dealing with success. But you also need to know the difference between yourself as a real person, and yourself as a sports and media “personality”.

5. Teamwork
Tennis players are solitary competitors on the court, but they always depend on the team that supports them. Trainers and managers act as advisors off the court, but once the match has begun, responsibility falls entirely on the player, just as it does on an executive. Even when just one person is in power, others are working for him behind the scenes.

6. Positive outlook
Some athletes lose a match before playing it. The secret lies in seeing the problem and turning it into an opportunity. Beyond such a perspective, you also have to exercise mental toughness in order to play your best when conditions are most difficult.

7. Environment
Your family environment is key; it shapes personality and it’s important to remember who you are and where you came from.

8. Coaching
Often, a talented person is the last one to realize what he has. The job of a good coach is to identify talent, select it and train it correctly so that it develops.

9. Pressure
The only way to deal with the pressure of serious competition is to realize that there are other things beyond winning a championship cup.

10. Collaborators
Both senior executives and elite athletes run the risk of surrounding themselves with people who only tell them what they want to hear.

What is - for you - the most important of the above?
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